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UCD’s bee garden celebrates National Public Gardens Day

By From page A1 | May 09, 2014

bee on roseW

A honeybee liked one of the yellow roses sold last year at the California Center for Urban Horticulture's Rose Weekend. Kathy Keatley Garvey/Courtesy photo

Check it out

According to garden manager Christine Casey, these are some of the five easiest-to-grow and tastiest-to-bees plants to manage:

* Yellow yarrow, also known as “moonshine”

* Salvias, like autumn sage

* ‘Ray Hartman’ ceanothus, the California lilac family

* Catnip, which has spotted-white or light pink flowers

* Old species roses, like the butterfly rose

Honeybees and carpenter bees zip through stalks of hummingbird mint and autumn sage in a garden built just for them on the west side of the UC Davis campus. On Friday evening, kids and parents are invited to join the buzz for the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven’s inaugural National Public Gardens Day celebration.

The gates will open at 5:30 p.m., and all visitors will be greeted by Miss Bee Haven, a 6-foot-long honey bee sculpture. But she’s not out to cause any trouble — rather, she’s here to teach gardeners, residents and other visitors how to plant a home for her brethren.

Volunteers and staff will give out sunflowers to the first 50 visitors. A tour showcasing bees and the garden’s flora will depart at 6 p.m.

The garden grows right next to the Harry H. Laidlaw Honey Bee Research Facility, home to 200 bee colonies, or conservatively, 4 million bees.

“Unlike kids that have to be told to eat their broccoli, bees find the plants that give the most nutrition,” said Christine Casey, the garden manager.

At a half-acre, the garden is nowhere near big enough to feed the whole brood, since a single colony requires about an acre of pollen- and nectar-rich land to feed. But it does teach people how to re-nutriate urban land.

“Before you had a city in place, it was all habitat for bees,” Casey said.

In addition to native bees, Casey estimates the garden feeds and houses about 85 native bee species, which like to burrow in the ground or live in holes in tree branches carved out by birds or beetles. The best flower for a bee depends on the size of the bee and the length of its tongue — it has to be able to both fit inside the flower and reach the nectar.

There are about 535 public gardens in the nation, but the honey bee haven is the sole participating member in the Sacramento area. For more information, visit http://beebiology.ucdavis.edu/HAVEN/honeybeehaven.html.

Elizabeth Case

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